Page 1723 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 13 May 2015

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us as a city. I think all of us have met people who said, “We came here under sufferance for a couple of years and 30 years later we’re still here because we love the place.” We have all met people who came and were surprised.

But what we need to do is make sure that everyone that we can get does come here and that they are constantly surprised by the changes. Yes, there have been some changes. Well done to the Efkarpidis family, the Molonglo Group, for what they did at New Acton. But my understanding is that from concept to delivery it took 15 years.

Of course, the things that are happening in Braddon are happening almost despite the government, because often it is too hard. For instance, when somebody wanted to have a pop-up in the old motor mechanics shop, it was almost too hard. Recently I think it was the Chief Minister who had to intervene so that one of the clubs could have—what was it called?—tranny bingo. This was so people could play some interesting games a little outside the norm. But it was too difficult initially until somebody had to intervene.

We have to develop in this city an attitude that says we value tourism and, I think more importantly, that we value the contribution that small business makes in the tourism sphere, whether it be family-owned businesses like Cockington Green, whether it be the lone bus operator or the ferry operator on the lake. There are a large number of small businesses in the ACT that contribute, whether it be through B&Bs or services that they provide. We have to give them the backup they need. I do not get a sense from the sector that they think the government has a plan to make this happen.

I will finish by going back to the TRA’s conclusion and read it again. After 13 or 14 years in government, nothing has really been done to change the perception. I accept there has been some movement recently, but there is still a lot of work to do. I will read the TRA’s conclusion about how the rest of the nation sees us:

Aspiration and access pose the most significant barriers to Canberra demand.

In terms of aspiration, while some consumers were simply not interested in the destination, many had other destinations higher on their list.

We have to change that. We have to have substance to change that, we have to have a strategy to change that and we have to have actions to change that. The report goes on to say:

Alternatively, they may have been before and don’t feel the need to return.

That is why, as we have said in many reports, we need a program for new attractions, new events and new accommodation. It goes on to say:

This implies a lack of unique and compelling experiences to drive repeat visitation.

We must concentrate on that and address the issues as outlined in this Tourism Research Australia report. (Time expired.)

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